They started as pen pals, connected through a magazine, and found lasting love.
By Ashley Miller
“We love telling our story,” begins Lisa Cakes over the phone from her home in Noggin Cove, NL. “I’m getting emotional just thinking back on it.”
With this year marking two decades since Lisa met her husband, Jeremy, they’re reminiscing about the start of their sweet love story, set in motion by Downhome. Then in their early 20s, both Jeremy and Lisa had made letter writing somewhat of a hobby, corresponding with strangers near and far - but they had no idea that they were about to make an extra-special connection. In April 2000, Lisa responded to Jeremy’s request for a pen pal, which appeared in “New Friends Across the Miles” (a once regular running section of this magazine, then called Downhomer).
“Every time I’d get a letter from him I’d be so excited,” beams Lisa. Her experience receiving and replying to Jeremy’s letters was a little different than you might imagine, however.
“Lisa is totally blind,” says Jeremy, a fact she revealed to him in her very first letter. Lisa recalls hanging on every word as a loved one read each of Jeremy’s letters aloud to her. She’d then type her replies, print them and have someone help with mailing.
Through their letters, they quickly discovered they had much in common - from their passion for animals to a love of reading and everything in between. She loved his sense of humour and caring nature; he loved her upbeat personality and perpetual positivity.
“We bonded right away, just through the mail,” says Jeremy, who was living in his hometown of King’s Point at that time, a three-hour drive from Lisa’s Noggin Cove home. Eventually, the pen pals connected by phone.
“We used to talk for hours. I’d say we drove his mother off of her head,” laughs Lisa. “I was just comfortable talking to him from the beginning.”
Five months after her first letter to Jeremy was postmarked, they arranged to meet in person. Lisa’s parents accompanied her to Gander, only an hour away, where Jeremy had begun attending the College of the North Atlantic. They met in September 2000, just outside the Country Kitchen restaurant.
“As soon as I saw her, the first thing that came in my mind was how beautiful she was,” says Jeremy. Lisa recalls being struck by Jeremy’s voice, so sweet sounding, during that first meeting. A few days later, during a stroll around Cobb’s Pond Park, they shared their first kiss.
“When he told me that I was the first person he had met that was blind, I was surprised… it’s almost like he knew exactly what to do, how to guide me,” says Lisa. “He actually said to me, ‘Which do you prefer: The elbow or the hand?’ He wanted to know how I wanted to be guided, if I wanted to hold his hand or his arm.”
While some of his loved ones initially expressed concerns about Jeremy dating someone with a visual impairment, for Jeremy, it’s just another aspect of the woman he loves more and more each day.
“Even though she’d been dealing with this disability - for lack of a better term, even though we really don’t like using that word - her whole life she was very optimistic, very outgoing; a very positive, uplifting person,” says Jeremy, who credits his wife with helping him, once a shy introvert, come out of his shell.
Less than a year after they became pen pals, Jeremy proposed, and on August 17, 2002, they were married. Their only child, a daughter, arrived in 2004. Back then some folks worried the couple rushed into marriage, but they quickly came around. Nowadays, their families’ only complaint about the two lovebirds is one that makes Jeremy and Lisa giggle.
“My sister thinks we’re too cute - too sappy. She loves Lisa to death, but she thinks we’re a pretty sappy couple,” says Jeremy.
With a love story that’s as sweet as their last name, this Cakes couple are still living out their happily ever after in scenic Noggin Cove with their teenaged daughter, Hannah; their cat, Twister; and Lisa’s guide dog-turned pet, Carmen (now enjoying retirement after eight years of loyal service).
The couple loves going for walks and enjoying movies together. Lisa is an avid sports enthusiast, playing everything from shotput to basketball and bowling, and sometimes travels to participate in competitions hosted by the Canadian Council of the Blind. Of course her sweetheart, Jeremy, is always by her side to cheer her on.
As they prepare to mark their 18th wedding anniversary this month, and 20 years as a couple in September, they’re enjoying looking back on the remarkable circumstances that led to their meeting.
“I believe it was God, along with the Downhomer, that brought us together,” says Lisa. “I’m a firm believer in that.”
Did Downhome play a part in your love story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share.